I love small ships and had sworn I would never sail on the Oasis of the Seas. But, when “Make-A-Wish” offered us to sail with them on the inauguration overnight cruise, we relented. Wow, what a ship! The Oasis is like no other ship ever created.
My overall impression is that RCCL does not want you to know you are on a ship. The seven “neighborhoods” create towns, parks, shopping malls, water parks and outdoor fun centers without you ever knowing that you are on a cruise ship. It is generally modeled after Las Vegas and Disneyworld, and you have to make an effort if you want to see the ocean.
The cabins are outstanding. The spa is reminiscent of Canyon Ranch or any other large, luxurious spa. The gym is as large as LA Fitness and packed with tons of brand new weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals and other assorted goodies. They did not scrimp on cost anywhere on the ship.
We arrived at 11AM at the port. It was myself, my wife and my son. Check-in was a little disorganized, but then again we were among the first travelers on this ship. Although we were guided to the “suite” check-in, it still took over ten minutes for our attendant to check us in and get our card keys. After that, we were given cards with a “group” number on them and then guided to that group before boarding the ship. There were only two gangways open and they were filled to capacity. After a few minutes our group was taken to the gangway, where about a hundred other people were waiting to board. In all, we finally stepped on the ship at 11:25AM, and this was before the big crowd arrived. There were only two gangways boarding 5,000 people.
We had a Junior Suite with ocean balcony. It was a very large cabin, and larger than Junior Suites we’ve stayed in before. The walk-in closet was almost bigger than some cabins we’ve been in before! Another couple we were traveling with had a regular cabin with ocean balcony. Their cabin, contrary to the junior suite, was smaller than most regular cabins we’ve been in before.
We ate lunch at the Solarium and it was delicious. They serve healthy and vegetarian food at the Solarium, including sugar free desserts. Very tasty and a great way to eat! We then went to the Windjammer Marketplace buffet for some regular desserts. We also had breakfast the next morning at the Windjammer. This is the main buffet restaurant for the ship, and it is huge! Very reminiscent of Las Vegas style buffets, with all sorts of salad, meats, vegetables and desserts. Excellent food and plenty of tables.
There were pools and Jacuzzis all over the ship. We counted six large pools and at least ten Jacuzzis. They were not busy on this cruise but I’m sure they’ll be busy on the week cruises. The Aqua Theater also becomes a pool during the day. They were supposed to have a show at the Aqua Theater in the evening but it wasn’t working so that was cancelled.
Dinner was served at the Opus Dining Room, which consists of three separate dining rooms, one above the other, with an open area between them. The service was excellent and the food was amazing. They had a very limited selection since this was a special cruise, but the presentation and taste was wonderful.
The Boardwalk is a new concept on a ship. It’s totally “outdoors” and designed like an old fashioned pier town, complete with a carousel. About 4 or 5 decks of cabins with balconies overlook the Boardwalk, and it all gives a very homey feeling. There are a bunch of restaurants, ice cream store, donut store, bars and games. At the end of the Boardwalk is the Aqua Theater and two, 200 foot rock climbing walls. I wish we had time to climb. They sure looked like fun!
“Central Park” is a few decks above Boardwalk, with the same type configuration of cabins overlooking the park. RCCL says there are over 10,000 plants and trees in the park, and I believe it. The park is lined with more stores, bars, restaurants and fun shops.
Overall, this is an amazing ship! If you are expecting anything close to any other ship you’ve traveled on, be aware – this is different. RCCL tries hard to make this ship a land-based destination rather than a sea-going cruise ship, and you have to work hard if you want to see the ocean. (except for your cabin, if it’s ocean side).
I still prefer a smaller ship, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to spend an overnight on the Oasis of the Seas. It’s a ship that has to be experienced.